April 26, 2017
GW-hosted event, “Growth Strategies in a De-Globalizing World,” brought finance ministers from Colombia, Indonesia and Paraguay.
As the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group spring meetings loomed, the George Washington University on Wednesday hosted international finance ministers and other experts to discuss the global economic landscape and implications for countries trying to grow in a “de-globalizing” world.
The event—hosted by GW’s Institute for International Economic Policy, GW School of Business and the Growth Dialogue—brought together the current finance ministers from Colombia, Indonesia and Paraguay and was moderated by Danny Leipziger, GW professor of practice of international business and managing director of the Growth Dialogue.
“The world is not in a good place,” Dr. Leipziger said in framing the discussion, adding many “warning signs” show countries’ difficulties with growing their economies, particularly at a time when others, including the U.S., are questioning globalization.
Does that mean that countries’ development strategies need to shift? And if so, how? Many agreed that looking inward is important during times of global uncertainty.
“We have to rely on domestic forces,” said Mauricio Cárdenas, Colombia’s minister of finance and public credit, adding infrastructure and brokering national peace and stability are important factors in growing his country’s economy.
Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia’s Minister of Finance, added that while increasing revenues is important for a country, so is a good spending plan when every dollar counts. “How you spend it, and how you spend it better, is going to also be very critical,” she said.
Looking at trade inter-regionally could also be an important tactic if engaging with the broader globe is difficult, said Santiago Peña, Paraguay’s minister of finance. Many countries in Asia have been able to do this and have coped better with global changes, he said.
Panelists also said growth worries are compounded by uncertainty surrounding some of the rhetoric and policy actions of the Trump administration with respect to globalization and declarations that certain countries have a trade surplus with the United States.
“I hope that GW is also playing an important role in this location because you have a moral responsibility to continue pushing back the policy trend which is worrying for many countries in the world,” Ms. Indrawati said.
Adam Posen, president of the Peterson Institute for International Economics, had some advice for the finance ministers with respect to engaging with the United States.
“One just has to assume for the next couple of years at a minimum that the U.S. is going to be, at best, a bad actor,” when it comes to trade and other international partnerships, he said.